A week after scoring no goals for the first time all season last weekend against LMU, the #9 UCSB men’s soccer team exploded with six goals Sunday against New Mexico at Harder Stadium in a 6-3 offensive showcase.
“We haven’t done that all year. I knew we were going to have to put up some goals without [senior midfielder David] McGill and [junior defender Tony] Lochhead here, and also [junior goalkeeper] Danny [Kennedy] got banged up in a car accident last night so we needed that,” Head Coach Tim Vom Steeg said.
Junior and senior strikers Drew McAthy and Neil Jones scored two apiece as the Gauchos scored the most goals since posting a six spot last year against St. Mary’s College.
“The last couple of games we’ve had a lot of chances, but couldn’t put anything in the net. But today we got the job done,” McAthy said. “It was tough but this was huge for us. We needed to get things going today.”
Senior midfielder Memo Arzate was his old self as well, offering three assists on the sun-soaked afternoon.
“We knew sooner or later we were going to do this. Hopefully from here on out we’ll be able to score like this,” Arzate said. “If I’m doing my job and the forwards do their job we can be very good.”
The circus started in the 23rd minute when McAthy deflected junior forward Matt Bly’s shot from the top of the box.
“(Bly) put it back in there and I got a foot on it, luckily, and it found the back of the net,” McAthy said.
Four minutes later, Arzate earned his first assist on a soft cross from right to left that found the head of Jones, who perfectly placed it to the right of New Mexico goalkeeper Andrew Weber to make the count 2-0.
In the 30th minute, senior forward Gene Deering, who had just entered the game, wasted no time in one-timing a pass from freshman forward Johnny Alcaraz for his first goal of the season.
Frustrated after not receiving the calls he felt were due to him, New Mexico midfielder Jeff Rowland grabbed a Gaucho defender by the throat and threw him to the ground, earning himself an early exit and forcing his team to play the rest of the game down a player.
With a 4-0 cushion after McAthy’s second goal of the match, the Gauchos began to relax and allowed two consecutive goals within three minutes.
“We just lost our heads there for a second. This was a good team though, considering they were tied with (#1) UCLA going into the 70th minute Thursday,” Vom Steeg said.
Ahead 4-2, the Gauchos responded quickly when Bly led Jones, who fired a left-footed knuckler from 30 yards out for the Gauchos’ fifth goal.
The Lobos responded when midfielder Stian Eriksen answered with another goal to cut the Gaucho lead to two.
Three goals was also the most the Gauchos have allowed in one game since losing to Indiana 3-0 last year.
The sixth Gaucho goal came on a cross from Arzate to freshman midfielder Jeff Murphy, who headed home his first career goal for Santa Barbara.
UCSB will begin a stretch of five Big West games, the first of which will take place Wednesday at Riverside as the Gauchos take junior stopper Tony Lochhead back to lead the defense.